Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Three walls completed and one to go

A couple of days ago I finished the third wall in the living room.  I also removed the paint from the fireplace mantle.

****If you are wondering about the pink in the fireplace opening, it's just 1 inch thick rigid foam insulation.  We have three fireplaces and all three need work done on the dampeners.  This helps keep the warm air in the house until they are updated.

I knew my heat gun was slowing down.  It wasn't getting as hot and it rattled loudly.  Just as I started removing  the paint from the front of the mantle...it went poof, threw a couple of sparks, and died.  Why does that always happen when you are soooo close to finishing a project or part of a project?

Lucky for me I had a heat gun stashed that only had the low setting.  This actually worked better for removing the paint from the pine mantle.  So I continued on and finished removing the remaining paint.

We'll need to purchase several more heat guns before we start the last wall in the living room. Removing the paint from the plaster requires a HOT heat gun.  I know the last wall is going to go slooooowly.  There is a lot of drywall compound that has been applied to peeling paint to try and hide the peeling paint.  There is also the two heat duct repaired areas and another repaired area which lines up with the downspout on the back of the house.  More than likely there was water damage from a clogged downspout or leaf filled eave trough. So I am estimating one month to finish the living room wall paint removal project.

In between paint removal, we have been continuing our bead board panel installation in the kitchen.  I did a quick measure and I think we will need to buy two more pieces.  That will be far easier to handle than the 9 pieces we already purchased......that was quite a workout.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ice Storm Damage

What a big mess.

We have broken branches everywhere.

Where do you start?  For now we are clearing just the driveway.

When do you start? You have to wait until the ice melts off the branches. If you try and trim the trees before the ice melts, it will just break more branches.

But here's the worst part.  These pines are ruined.  The first photo is of a tree that was comprised of three trunks with a raised canopy.  Two of the trunks are broke and the third is severely bent.
The second photo shows a upright juniper that hid our gas meter.  It's laying on it's side and hiding part of the driveway.
The next to last photo shows the three trunked pine that is destroyed.
This was a perfectly straight and perfectly shaped pin oak.

Edited.......A transformer in the neighbors yard caught on fire last night and now we are w/o power.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow blower woes

We knew that the snow was coming.  I guess you don't need to be an Einstein to know that snow is going to fall in Michigan in the winter.  Two days ago R made sure the snow blower was prepped and ready to go.  The snow blower started right up...no problem.....let it snow.

Well it snowed.  R bundled up and went into the garage to start the snow blower and it wouldn't start.  Yup that's right.  Two days ago ran like a top.  Today nothing.  R pulled the plug because with these two stroke engines, the plug can easily get fouled.  He said it looked like a cobweb across the electrode.  He blew it off and reinstalled it.   He wasn't expecting much but what the heck.

Our blower has an electric start.  It uses a heavy duty extension cord rather than a battery to start the blower.  This is actually great because batteries go dead and in extreme cold they don't turn over a cold engine very well.  R hit the start button and it started right up.  Whew...dodged a bullet there.

So after thawing out, we got another late start.  R worked on the ceiling and I worked on the paint scraping.  My paint scraping is moving along fairly fast.  This area isn't uncovering anything unexpected.  Of course I found another switch box and where there was once a sconce.  But the paint is coming off without much trouble.

Friday, December 13, 2013

And the scraping continues...

I forgot to take a photo of today's work but here is a photo of the completed side.  I've moved on to the other side of the fireplace wall since finishing this side two days ago.  The current area should go fairly fast because this is a smaller area because of the door.

Today's paint removal included removing paint from the top of the mantel and the side.  This leaves the just the front of the mantel to remove paint.  The paint comes off fairly easy but the front has a lot of fluting that slows down the progress.

While I scrape, R has been busy installing bead board panels on the ceiling in the kitchen.  Half of the ceiling rafters go north and south and half go east and west due to the way the house was framed.  Add to that the three light fixtures and the layout becomes tricky.  We are also finding out that the room is not exactly square.  We were not surprised but again it slows down progress.

We are trimming out the ceiling with 1 X 4's, both on the ceiling and the walls so it will give a simple version of crown molding.  Then we will run a 1 X 4 across the ceiling to hide the seams between the panels.

The short daylight hours are a bummer.  R prefers to work in natural light.  His eyesight is vastly improved after having his lens surgery last year.  Besides developing cataracts the surgeon said his eyeballs looked like they had been sandblasted.  The doctor and R determined that was from the years of motorcycle racing.  But when it comes to low light situations his vision is not perfect. He sees flashes of light when we add bright lights to help light the area.  The surgeon told him this is common with artificial lens but R finds it unnerving when running power tools.  So for now we stop work at 5PM every day.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What do we have here?

I'll admit that paint removal can be pretty boring.  Sometimes you just get in the zone and before you know it you've scraped a fairly big area.

You sometimes don't noticed the clues when you are as close to the wall as I am.  The other day I did notice the outline of the edge of something just above the fireplace mantel.  But since I couldn't figure out what it was until I removed more paint...I just put that on the back burner.

I really made a lot of progress today.  I needed to take a break and R wanted my help holding something in place while he did his thing.  It hit me like a ton of bricks when I walked back into the living room.  This is not the original mantle.  It's making sense now.  This fireplace was probably like the one in our bedroom.....a large stucco fireplace with a decorative tile surround and hearth.

Upon close inspection the center portion above the mantel is most certainly new because it is made of drywall and wood. You can see the outline of the top of the old mantle just above the current mantle on the left side.   See that large area that I haven't removed yet?  Well that is really deep. Probably where the stucco had to be broken out for the new mantle.

But there is more.  See that circle area off toward the top and the small rectangle below it?  There was a sconce and possibly a light switch.  The sconce hole still has the wire sticking out of it.  It's not active but again rather than remove it, they just left it and moved on.

My plan is to finish this wall before Christmas.  I do not have to remove paint from the center portion because there is very little paint to remove.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Well...that didn't work out .....


I found a glass shade on eBay for the mud room ceiling light and it was for the shade only, no fixture. This was cool because I already have a cast iron ceiling fixture that I wanted to use.  So I purchased the shade and it arrived 5 days later.  I loooooooooooovvvvvvvveeeee the shade.  It is in perfect condition and is perfect for the look I am trying to achieve.

But.........I have no idea how I let this slip by.  It is the wrong fitter size.  It's close, but as the saying goes....close but no cigar.  I was bummed because not only do I love the shade but I had already restored the fixture.  When I first bought the fixture it had a bazillion coats of paint on it....no really I counted every zillion.  You couldn't even see the egg and dart detail.  I was so pleasantly surprised after I sand blasted the fixture.  The three original brass tightening screws were present and in great condition.  I quickly primed the fixture.  You have to do this with cast iron or the item will develop surface rust right before your eyes.  I had that happen with the side rails on a brass bed that I restored (as a matter of fact...I am laying in that bed right now as I type this).  I sand blasted the rails and then realized that I did not have any primer left in the can.  I drove to the hardware store and when I returned there was the beginning of surface rust.  I'll admit....it was a humid day.

So now I am on the hunt for a new cast iron ceiling fixture with a 4 inch fitter.  There are more pressed metal fixtures available than cast iron so it might take me a month or so.  The first fixture won't go to waste.  I think I'll use it in my entry way broom closet.

The second bummer is that three days ago we went to Lowe's to buy bead board plywood paneling.  I wanted the plywood variety in pine and paint grade.  All I could find was birch in stain grade.  So we drove across the street to Home Depot.  They didn't have it, either.  We were walking away intent on going back to Lowe's to buy the birch bead board when a sales associate approached us.  We explained what we wanted and somehow he talked us into primed Masonite bead board paneling.  We loaded the truck with the 9 sheets and drove home.

We arrived home and unloaded.  By the time we had loaded the nine sheets into the truck and unloaded the 9 sheets we were already unsure.  The next day (yesterday) we spoke briefly about our doubts. Today when I woke up I knew that they were not what I wanted.  I told R that I felt we would not be happy with the results and it just wasn't what I had envisioned.  He said he was glad because he wasn't happy with them at all.  So we loaded the 9 sheets back into the truck and drove back to Home Depot. Then we unloaded the 9 sheets again and returned them.

We drove back to Lowe's to buy the birch bead board paneling.  As we walked down the aisle, I walked by the pine bead board plywood paneling and saw what I had been looking for the first time we were there.  I think what happened was someone pulled a sheet off another pile and hid what I was looking for.

So we loaded up another 9 sheets and headed to the cashier.  Then we loaded the 9 sheets into the truck and drove home.  Then we unloaded the 9 sheets and brought them into the house.  To say I am tired of loading and unloading is an understatement.  But we are both happier with these plywood panels.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The coat hooks have arrived....

all the way from the U.K.

I priced a lot of coat hooks before buying.  Of course we wanted something vintage or vintage looking and we needed 4 hooks.  Originally I thought 5, but when we measured the space they were too close.

Whenever I'm looking for vintage, I of course, go to eBay and Etsy.  Since I have a shop on Etsy, I went there first.  I faved a few but nothing grabbed me so I headed to eBay.  The selection on eBay was huge.  I immediately ruled out the fancy Victorian hooks.  As pretty as they are, they are not correct for our style or age of home.  I needed something simple but not like the coat hooks that can still be bought today.

I finally spotted a hook that I loved but I thought "too bad it has that raised initial cast into it."  I looked around some more but nothing caught my eye like the hooks with the raised letter. So I went back and looked at them again.  It was at that time, that I noticed the seller offered hooks with other initials. I couldn't believe it when I realized that he had our first initials....J and R.

The seller is in the U.K. so I thought it would take between 4 and 6 weeks before they arrived. Imagine my surprise when they were delivered in less than 2 weeks.  The seller included the correct slotted wood screws and there was even an extra screw.

R had to do a lawnmower/snow blower swap today.  Unfortunately, here in the north, you are only prepared for winter if your snow blower is parked in your garage ready to go OR your lawn tractor has the snow blade and chains on the tires.  Pity the northerner who enters into the month of December not prepared for snow.  That person is just tempting the snow gods to dump 10 inches of snow on his driveway during the night when he has to be at work at 8AM.

So we really didn't have time to get a lot done today.  It's those days that we do little jobs like install the hooks AND install the shop bell on the kitchen door.  I purchased the shop bell several years ago on eBay for $24.99 plus $5.00 for shipping.  It was bent but the bell was in good condition and the clapper was still intact.  I straightened the bracket portion but the hard part was finding two round headed small slotted screws to use.  We've accumulated 1,000's of screws. It must have taken me an hour to go through the screws and find two that matched and were the correct size and type.

We really like the look of the hooks and our shop bell and we think once the mud room is painted bright white they will look even better.

Today's cost

4 coat hooks purchased on eBay $25.15
1 shop bell purchased on eBay $29.99

Total spent $55.14

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mud room done...

...for now.

The bench seat is finished and all the small trim has been installed.  We are very pleased with how it looks, even though we know it will look better when the entire room is painted white.
R installed cross bracing for added support but I failed to capture that exciting moment with a photo.

The wood used to build the bench came entirely from our wood pile except for the small trim pieces that I have already accounted for in a previous post.

We still need to sand, prime, and paint but that will have to wait until spring when we can open the windows for ventilation.  The floors have had a preliminary sanding and will need another sanding and staining.  This, too, will happen in the spring.

I have ordered 4 vintage coat hooks from a seller in the UK and I have also purchased a vintage handpainted glass shade to use with a vintage cast iron ceiling fixture that I already own.

R installed the vintage wood door stop that I purchased for $8.00 on eBay.  It looks perfect in the mud room and will keep the heavy oak door from hitting the window sill.

It might just be me but that door stop reminds me of a......never mind.

We already purchased a black metal shop bell for the kitchen door.  R might install that tomorrow if we have time and can find two appropriate screws.  I think the sound of it ringing when the door is opened will be charming or maybe annoying.....I'll get back with you in a year or so about it charmness.

I was only able to scrape an area of 2 ft by 2 ft in the living room.  The paint scraping will be slow during the month of December.  Tomorrow (if it doesn't rain) we head to the Lowe's to buy bead board paneling for the ceiling in the kitchen.  Installation will be a two person job so I will have my heat gun toting hand busy with bead board paneling.

Money spent today

Vintage wood door stop     $8.00

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rounding the corner

Yeeessss....I finally rounded the corner in the living room paint scraping.  I know that I still have over 1/2 of the living room to scrape but it was nice to have an entire wall completed.  I'm also looking forward to standing on the floor and not on a ladder to scrape paint.
We also did a little rounding of the corner in the mud room project.  All the edges in the kitchen in mud room are rounded, so we needed to round over the edges of the seat supports that we cut out.
All the parts are ready to be installed on Monday including the small cove molding and small square molding that goes into the corners.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I was beginning to think I was never going to finish the paint scraping above the window.  It was so rewarding to sweep up those paint chips. Excuse the blurry photo.

If you are wondering about those white stripes, they are where they (whoever installed the original forced air heat) cut out the original plaster and inserted the heat ducts.  The patch job is horrendous.  It doesn't match the texture and is a very soft material like plaster of Paris or drywall compound.  I'm leaving it for the plaster guy because I'm sure he has a tool to remove that material faster than I can do it.

You may also notice that some of the base board is white.  Well, that is where they (see above for who they are) removed the original base board and replaced with pine boards (with knots) that doesn't match the original fir nor is it the same profile.  The original base board has a rounded radius on the top and the pine board just has the sharp 90 degree edge.

We have two options.  The first is to try and find more of the vintage base board but that might be difficult because we need to replace all the dining room base board, too.  The second option is to replace with new poplar boards and put the correct radius on the top.  Poplar paints nicely and all of our trim will be white.  Before anyone freaks out.  I know for a fact that the dining room was always painted.  I prefer my trim to be the same throughout the house and the dining room and living room share a large doorway.  I think painting one side and staining the other side would look iffy. My floors are going to be dark along with my doors so I think a little white is needed.

We worked on the leg supports for the seat in the mud room.  A little more sanding is needed and we will be ready to install the center support.  Each end will also have a support but that support will be half the width of the center support.

On the agenda for tomorrow (Sunday) is to try and scrape the paint all the way to the corner.  In the mud room, we hope to get the center support installed and the end supports built and sanded.

Money spent today.

Zero $0.00